Something good from nothing
By Clif Knight
Hartselle Hospital commanded a hilltop north of downtown for more than half a century. Incrementally, it developed into a 150-bed medical facility with a medical team and support staff totaling nearly 150 personnel.
It’s where Hartselle Ambulance Service carried you if you were injured in an automobile accident. You went to its ER if you fell off a ladder and broke a leg, or cut your hand while working with a chainsaw, or woke up with chest pain.
Probably half of the city’s middle-age citizens were born there – including two of our three children.
All seemed to be going well until Huntsville Medical Center broadened its scope of medical services and purchased the property several years ago. A short time later, the medical facility was permanently closed, forcing residents to choose among Huntsville, Decatur and Cullman for in-patient and out-patient medical treatment.
A continuing effort between Huntsville Hospital and Hartselle officials to salvage the building by locating a suitable tenant was discontinued several months ago, with the hospital agreeing to remove the building and turn the property over to the city.
Actually, demolition of the building started several months ago with the removal of asbestos material. Giant removal equipment was moved onto the site a couple of weeks ago, with a wrecking crew proceeding with its work.
All that remains are piles and piles of broken concrete blocks, sheet rock, concrete flooring and twisted steel beams. Dump trucks are being used to transport the debris to the Decatur-Morgan County landfill.
The question that remains is, what will become of the property when the building is gone?
City officials have indicated they favor seeding the large lot in grass and maintaining it as a green space. There is also a possibility of selling the property to an investment firm that is willing to develop it as an apartment complex.
In the final analysis, tearing the building down will save the prior owner money by eliminating the cost of upkeep. It will also prevent a large property from wasting away over time and becoming an eyesore.
Let’s have the outlook that making the property a community asset is better than doing nothing.